Reverse Advent Calendar

My friend Stuart Wright, from the great north land of nice people, otherwise known as Canada, sent me a wonderful idea today. It is a reverse advent calendar. Instead of opening a little door on a calendar and getting a piece of chocolate during advent you get a basket and put a non- perishable food item in the basket everyday during advent. Then on Christmas Eve you donate your advent basket to the Food Bank.
Leave it to those friendly Canadians to come up with a major improvement on the advent calendar. Who really needs any more candy or tiny presents during the holidays? I know advent calendars are mostly for children, but most of the children I know have too much as it is. If you can afford an advent calendar you can afford to do the reverse idea and teach your children what the real meaning of Christmas is.  
Now I don’t want the Christians to hog this idea. No matter what your belief system is, or even non-belief you can get in on this reverse giving too. I can see playing dreidel and instead of getting some waxy bad tasting chocolate gelt, you could put a can of beans in the pot to give to the hungry. The only thing I suggest is that you don’t put in a jar of gefilte fish, not because it is not the best tasting item, but because it is a glass jar. The Food Bank does not like to accept glass jars because if they break and the contents spills on other food it all gets ruined. You can only imagine was a broken jar of gefilte fish could do to ten boxes of shredded wheat.
I am going to put a basket in my front hall, so that every time I walk past it I am reminded the meaning of the Christmas season. Anyone who visits my house will be welcome to contribute to my advent basket for the Food Bank. I am happy to fill my car and take all donations in. Of course checks make the best presents, in the advent basket or anyplace else.
Thanks for the idea Stuart!

Fall At Last

Finally it has gotten seasonally chilly! Last night I opened the front door to let Shay go outside and I could hear the trees swaying in the cold night breeze. It just sounded colder.
I am tired of the consistent hot weather. The reason to live in a North Carolina is to have four distinct seasons. As long as we have this governor we at least deserve a nice long fall. Fall is my favorite season and I fear we might go from a long hot summer to a long cold winter with hardly any buffer seasons.
Russ and I took Shay for a walk up at the Eno Park. It was cool enough to wear a sweatshirt, but still enjoy the sunshine. The leaves have started to fall, disguising the trail. A number of large trees have fallen across the trail, probably from hurricane Mathew. At one point Shay thought she could jump over a pair of trees and she made the vertical jump, but once she was on top of the fallen trunk she was not sure footed on the round tree. Russ came to her rescue catching her as she fell to the side.
The cool weather made the walk better for Shay too. She was not panting from exhaustion after climbing the big hill up from the river to the parking lot. Hooray for fall. Let’s keep it like this for a couple of months.


The news keeps taking about this election possibly being a low voter turn out race. You couldn’t tell that from the crowd at the early voting poll I went to today. I knew it was going to take a long time when I drove up and there was a line of cars waiting to turn into the parking lot. My friend, Andy, told me she waited there yesterday for two hours. I was prepared to wait at least that long.
Turns out I only had to wait an hour, but it was quite a pleasure. I had the nicest group of people in line with me. Our conversations started very tenderly, with no one wanting to step on another’s persons toes and ended with the exchange of information on the down ballot races.
This is a historic election that I was sure would come in my life time. No, not that we would have a non-politician as a major party candidate, but that we would have a woman. Having gone to an all girls school at the height of woman’s lib I was certain that we would have a woman candidate. I actually am surprised it took us this long.
I am going to go out on a limb and disagree with the newsmakers and say that this will not be a low voter turn out race, at least in North Carolina. There is a lot at stake and I feel like the citizens are taking their civic duty seriously.  
Tonight Russ texted me from his flight coming home asking if I wanted to go vote with him tomorrow. I guess he did not read my blog last night and now I feel guilty that I went without him. I was just so ready to get my vote in just in case something happens to me. I’m just sorry that Carter is a month too young to vote.
If you can vote early do it. But if you can’t, hopefully all these people voting early will make the lines not too long on Election Day. This election has been long enough.

Only 19 Days Left

For the next 19 days I can’t watch any TV in real time. See, like most of you I can’t take the political ads any more. The half truths, the spin, the nastiness is ruining my mood. The local bullying ads are the worst. When an older, blond white woman calls a candidate an “odd duck” I want to strangle the copy writer who wrote this ad. If a candidate has no positive platform, record or plan to run on they just say bad stuff about their opponents.  
Since civility is not going to return in this election I am just going to turn a deaf ear to it. This also means that I am going to have stop looking at Facebook. I want to continue to like my friends and it is best if we don’t know each other’s politics. I am sorry to those readers of my blog who have read and disagreed with mine. I am not going to make any more political comments, unless one of the major candidates does something so outrageous that I just can’t help myself.  
It is time to DVR, Stream, Netflix and just plain turn the tv off. Nothing I can see or hear is going to change who I am voting for. The constant bickering could just possible ruin my diet. So I am not going to fall victim to any election stress eating.
To justify not keeping up with the last minute changes to all the races I am going to vote tomorrow at the Eno River Unitarian Fellowship on Garrett road. I feel a sense of peace voting at the Unitarian Church, Iike perhaps we can all get along again.
It has been an ugly race, but when it is over we have to be one nation again. I am hoping for the best which only can happen if everyone participates. If anyone needs a ride to go vote I am happy to drive you. Just no excuses for not exercising your rights. Soon enough all this noise will be over and the politicians can get back to doing not as much as they should.

Lunch Lady Diet

I made exactly 37 quarts of Tortilla soup today, sans the tortillias. Those will be made tomorrow. 37 quarts is a lot of soup to go in the fridge at the same time. I have learned my lesson long ago about not overwhelming appliances, but I also know that food needs to be chilled quickly. What am I to do?
I eventually put quarts in a cooler with a whole bag of ice on top to get them to be refrigerator cold before going in the icebox. This is when I wish I had a blast chiller. Of course that is not a home appliance I really need that often.
I am sorry to say that all that soup was pre-spoken for so I have no extra. In fact I needed 37 quarts and that is exactly how much I made. How I figured that our I do not know.  
Russ and Carter walked in the house and said, “I want that smell for dinner.” Thank goodness I had some I had made the other day as a test. It would be terrible to not feed my family while feeding all my friends’ families.
All this cooking is still the best diet. I was too tired to eat dinner and just had an apple and a piece of cheese. I need to make a large amount of food everyday so that I do away with my appetite. Maybe I should become a lunch lady. The. I also would not need. A blast chiller because the food would be consumed right after I made it.
Next up is going to be jambalaya. That is going to need chilling too!

Announcing The New Food Bank Headquarters

For years I have been keeping a secret. It is that the Food Bank Of Central and Eastern NC has a new headquarters. I am thrilled that I can finally shout it from the roof tops.
The Food Bank is a very frugal organization. Never wanting to spend any money on ourselves, but instead always putting money into getting food out to hungry people. As a member of the board we knew that we had out grown our old headquarters on Tar Heel drive in Raleigh years ago. At 48,000 square feet it was much too small, but we made due.
The board spent years considering all our options. Plenty of people wanted to build us a new building, but the locations were always much too far from the people who we serve and the volunteers who serve us. Location was a big issue for us. We also could not see building a fancy building. It goes against our mission.
We held out. We kept looking. We passed up big places in good locations that might be bio hazards. Then one day we got wind that the Old Raleigh Flea Market on Capital Boulevard might be willing to sell. After long negotiations with the family who owned the 108,000 square foot building on eleven acres we got it. That was just the beginning.
We started a private capital campaign and a renovation at the same time. I had to keep many secrets; that we bought the building, that we were renovating it and that I was chairing the board division of the capital campaign. If you asked me what I was doing, I might have said Food Bank stuff, but I was vague since I was really out shaking people down for pledges for our fabulous new building. I was not aloud to say anything until now and you know how hard that is for me.
Today it goes public! Couldn’t help it since the Food Bank moved last week in the midst of Mathew. It seems that whenever the Food Bank moves into a new building we also have a devastating hurricane. Moved into a new building a week before Fran, into a new branch in Greenville a week before Floyd and now this one.
We are going to need every inch of our more than double the space since what we know is that the after math of these hurricanes is a multiyear bump in the need of our services. We not only need to finish the capital campaign to pay for the building, but we need to increase our food capacity for the hurricane.  
If you are interested in seeing the building, or helping the Food Bank let me know. I am happy to drive you over and give you the tour. It is an exciting place that we hope we don’t outgrow for a very long time. We do know that everyone who encounters the Food Bank, as an agency who gets from from us to a volunteer who helps sort food will enjoy it so much more in our new home. 

Loss of My Second Best Sense

It finally happened, I lost my second best sense. For most of my life I had superior eyesight. I was 20/10 in one eye and 20/15 in the other. Most people don’t even know that you can be better than 20/20. Unlike so many of my friends in high school, I could wake up in the morning and see perfectly without having to feel around for glasses, or touch my eye to put contacts in.
My husband, whose worse sense is seeing, would say, “There are five lights ahead?” in response to my directions, “turn at the fifth light.” I could see far and in perfect focus.  
Then around forty five my close up vision started to go. I could not tell which bottle was the shampoo and which was the conditioner in hotel showers. I broke down and got readers. First 1.0, followed quickly by 1.5, and a year or two later 2.5, skipping 2.0 all together. But they were just readers. No doctors’ intervention.
Then I went to a museum with my husband and I could not read the descriptions on the wall from behind the rope. I would lean over as far as the docent would allow me. I would put my reading glasses on and take them off, to no avail. My sight was gone.
Today I went to the eye doctor. Sure enough. From 20/15 to 20/25. She described it as two clicks from normal. I thought of it as the death of my superior sense. I had to pick out glasses to wear when I go to museums. I did not bother to get bifocals since the doctor told me that I did not need glasses for most things so my readers will remain my permanent necklace, but when I go to museums I will have to carry two pairs with me.
For the record, my best sense it that of taste. I can taste something and most often diagnose exactly what is in it. I am thankful that my best sense is still with me because there are no corrective measures for tastebuds.